Today is World Food Day and I’ve just spent a great morning with my kids and my mum joining our local March Against Monsanto. I live in a small seaside conurbation outside of Brisbane, so there weren’t thousands at the march like there will be in cities all over the world today, but as guest speaker Liz Gilbert Grant said, “look around, these are your people, this is your community”.
If you’re wondering what the March Against Monsanto is all about, read on. If you were at the march this morning, here are the photos, as promised.
Why March against Monsanto?
Monsanto is the most famous – or maybe I should say infamous – agrochemical company that makes genetically modified seeds to sell to farmers. It is a huge corporation that has its tentacles all over the world, even in some of the smallest countries.
There are many reasons people are suspicious or downright hostile towards Monsanto, here is a very simple rundown:
- Monsanto is an agricultural chemical company that used to make agent orange, the chemical dumped on Vietnamese jungles to strip them of vegetation and make it easier to find the enemy during the civil war in the late 60s/early 70s.
- The company also makes Roundup, a widely used herbicide, which they insist is safe, despite a growing body of evidence that it builds up in soil and has chronic effects on human and animal health.
- By no coincidence, Monsanto also makes genetically modified seeds that are resistant to Roundup, meaning the herbicide can be applied liberally to crops making it theoretically easier for farmers to manage their weeds while increasing yield.
- The seeds have been designed so that they won’t propagate, meaning farmers have to buy seeds each season.
- Monsanto has been known to come down hard on farmers whose crops are contaminated by their GM seeds, even if the farmer did nothing wrong.
- Monsanto is profit hungry and dominates the market, meaning it has an unprecedented control over many staple crops worldwide.
As I said, this is a very light version of the story and you can find plenty of information online. I suggest you start here, with Greenpeace’s article about the company.
The reason I marched against Monsanto today was to raise awareness of GMOs in food in Australia. I think so many people think it’s a distant problem, when in fact 70 percent of all processed foods in Australia contain genetically modified ingredients and we literally don’t know how they are affecting us . You can read about how to avoid GMOs here.
A huge thanks to Barbie, the organiser of the Redcliffe March Against Monsanto, who is most certainly not a “nobody”, but a “somebody who inspired and organised us all.